I caught one of those double deckers that seemed to be rolled out to convey personnel to and from Hereford railway station to RAF Hereford. Had no idea where I was going and, I have to admit at that time, no idea why I was going there. I don’t ever recall having a burning desire to join up. Nevertheless this is where I was.
Thus I was enlisted as a Royal Air Force Administrative Apprentice, 32nd Entry. My first disappointment was that I thought I had left school in July 1957 only to find that I had joined what seemed to be another school. With the various exceptions, drill, bed packs, thirty man billets etc. Through the first term and home for Xmas leave, I really did not want to go back to Hereford but a bout of real cowardice ensured that I would go back. I just could not face my family and friends and admit that I had failed, so back I went.
I didn’t actually complete the course; I opted to go into “mans service” in November 1958. Over the years this is a decision that I have regretted because having spent 22 years (plus the under 18 portion) there always seemed to be something missing. This was the fact that although I had been part of many Passing Out Parades I had never actually Passed Out in my own right.
My service career did not suffer and I progressed in the normal course of things until retirement. ime is a great healer and as I reflect the past fifty years I cannot conceive of a finer way to have started out in life and I always proudly refer to myself as an ex apprentice. It is that beginning that helped me to set the standards that I needed to apply to life as a whole.
My best wishes to all ex apprentices but particularly to those members of the 32nd who clock up fifty years this September.